Prime Minister Philip Davis said yesterday The Bahamas would likely experience “a very significant” decrease in the cost of fuel if the United States (US) lifts its sanctions and allows Venezuela to export oil to the Caribbean.
“[At] both at the Summit of the Americas and CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), the issue of energy security loomed very large in our discussions,” Davis said.
“So, for example, the voices of SIDS (small island developing states) were being heard about the sanctions being placed on Venezuela. We are now seeing movements to relieve the sanctions, so that the Venezuelan oil and other related products can now be exported from Venezuela. So, our voices are being heard in respect to that.
“Trinidad, for example, they have a reserve of gas which is being stagnated because of the relationship that they have with Venezuela. We have made strong recommendations to the US to lift sanctions with respect to that and we hope to see that move very soon.”
Davis’ comments were in response to Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) CEO Shevonn Cambridge’s assertion that the power company will increase its fuel surcharge within “the next month or two”.
The prime minister added, “… If our efforts to remove the other pressures that feed into increasing the cost of fuel, if those are released, as we expect them to, there may not be a need for us to consider raising any further bills on the backs of Bahamians.”
Davis said these are some of the things that government officials address when they travel.
He said the US has allowed Venezuela to export oil to the European Union since the Summit of the America took place earlier this month.
“The next step now is to tell with our situation here in the Caribbean,” Davis said.
“Hopefully, we just have to follow through on that. We will deal with that this weekend (at CARICOM) in Suriname.”
Davis said the issue of those sanctions and energy security are high on the agenda for CARICOM’s upcoming meeting.
“Once the valve is released for Venezuela to provide fuel, we will see a very significant downward trend on the cost of fuel,” he said.
On February 28, BPL issued a statement announcing that customers’ fuel charges will increase from 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 13.7 cents per kWh.
It said customers whose average monthly consumption is 250 kWh will see a rise of about $8 in their monthly light bill and customers whose consumption is 600 kWh will see an increase of about $19 per month.
The statement was later recalled and Davis later promised that his administration would address the issue.
On Friday, when asked if the new fuel charge will align with what was announced by BPL earlier this year, Cambridge said, “That was what the numbers looked like back then. I don’t think there has been much movement in the market globally, so I think whatever you see will be around that region or range.”